McCoy Farmhouse

McCoy House LR.jpg

Ralph Pomeroy and Jacob R. Hiestand rented the land from the owner Henry Yager to grow tobacco on which the McCoy farmhouse was to be built. This crop became valuable during the Civil War because most of the tobacco had been grown in the South. Benjamin Brown purchased the farm in 1861 and built the farmhouse that would eventually be known as the McCoy Farmhouse. The architecture was known as Italianate, a backward looking style that was popular in the 19th century. The two-story house was built from cream-colored brick that was imported from Milwaukee. The exterior walls are three bricks thick with no wood frame. The house’s roof is surrounded by a bracketed cornice and topped by a small cupola. A two-story wing extends from the back of the house.

The house had many owners and residents through the years but Elizabeth McCoy, one of the first prominent female microbiologist at the University of Wisconsin has been associated with the Brown farmhouse. She bought the house in 1949 for sentimental reasons as her grandfather, James McCoy, had owned the house in the late 19th century. Elizabeth McCoy died in 1978 and left the farmhouse to the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation. The house was in great disrepair and the foundation wanted to demolish it. However, after a spirited debate the house was declared a cemetery that could not be destroyed because of an old tale that a workman was killed during construction and was buried in the basement.

*The photo of McCoy House and text with editing has been taken from the Fitchburg Landmark Preservation Commission website with permission. http://www.fitchburgwi.gov/2156/Landmarks-Preservation